Rolling Mill Novice

Fabrication | Jewelry | | | | | | |

I just opened up the box on my brand new (jewelry-size) rolling mill - I've never used one before. I read that cut-out paper makes a suitable pattern for imprinting and gave it a try on some copper sheet (approx 21 gauge). Not very impressive results. I used cut paper taped directly to the copper. Nothing else - no "sandwich" as I have read about. Can anyone offer some tips on getting the maximum (or even acceptable) depth/strength out of my imprint?

I cranked it pretty hard/tight. Almost couldn't turn the handle. I've since read that may be too much.

I heated the copper for about 30 seconds first, low red-hot. I guess that annealed it. Not exactly sure. I wasn't very precise in that way. Seemed pretty soft to begin with though.

Would a semi-soft backing behind the copper help give the "image" something to squish into? What might that be? Same kind of paper as the image? Something thicker? Dense rubber sheet? What about on top?

Does anyone have any experience with a certain kind of paper that works best? I used index card stock.

You can see I'm just sort of feeling my way about this - self taught as always and can't find much info. Any thing I "must do" that I am skipping?

I will continue to experiment...

visitor's picture

rolling mill

I am surprised that you didn't an imprint. I have used just regular paper and recieved an imprint without annealing the copper. From what I can remember using the mill you should just have a tight enough so that the metal cannot be pulled out and that should be enough to give you an imprint. I have used mesh, string, and just about any soft type of material that has a design that would transfer to the copper. I know I don't sound like much help but I am scratching my head as well.

Rich Waugh's picture

If you want the copper fully

If you want the copper fully annealed you need to get it to about a high red or low orange and then quench it in water or pickle. However, what you did probably achieved at least 75% of that.

If the paper is on top of the copper and the rolls are set to just enough to push the paper into the copper but not to thin the copper overall you should get an imprint. I think you may have had the rolls so tight you forged the copper as much as imprinted it. Best guess I can make.

You do not want a soft backing. You could try putting the paper between the copper and a thin sheet of stainless steel or even mild steel and see what that does. Also try harder paper like gasket paper or manila folder stock. Something that is already about as compressed as it can get. I've had good success with dried leaves, even.


dowpat's picture


I have only done a little imprinting on copper but do use my roller for some of my fold formed items. Try setting the rollers like Rich says and instead of paper try a Crochet Lace Doily. Have fun and let us see what you did.


Daverham's picture

Sorry - It seems that I ran

Sorry - It seems that I ran crying to the forum a little prematurely. I just needed to experiment a bit, and didn't really have the time to do that on my first attempt. Last night was much more productive!

All your advice was certainly to steer me in the right direction. I was pressing too hard, and more importantly, i just needed to find the right stacking order.

There is a laser-cutting shop around the corner from my office, so I had them cut out a handful of my own artwork (drawn in adobe illustrator), and I also tried a few freehand ones, cut out with an exacto knife. Either way, the paper works beautifully, the copper was soft enough as is. Silver too.

By the way, that's a $250 mill from via eBay.

Digital Layout

Cut Paper patterns

New Rolling Mill!

Silver sheet with Cut Paper



Fern Print Pendant

Rich Waugh's picture

By George, I think he's got

By George, I think he's got it! Good job!


IKRE84U's picture

Paper thickness and laser printing.

What thickness is your paper and where would I find a laser cutting place in Phoenix, AZ? I tried to google laser cutting and I guess I do not know what to look for. :)
Thank you!

Rich Waugh's picture

Check with a couple of sign

Check with a couple of sign shops in Phoenix to see if one of them has or knows who does have, a laser cutter. If you're on the west side of the valley, try Christie Signs in Glendale. (If they're still around - I haven't been therein 20+ years.)

IKRE84U's picture

Thanks, will do. They are

Thanks, will do. They are still in business. I am in Ahwatukee so I think I'll call them and see what they know.

marilyn's picture

Yes, you had it too tight

Yes, you had it too tight and I don't think your copper was really annealed. What did you use to heat it?


Daverham's picture

More. Enjoying that mill!

More. Enjoying that mill!

Winter Trees Ring

Fern Print Ring

beadaholic's picture

What gauge of metals was

What gauge of metals was those impressions? I have yet to figure out my own mill. I got it from Contenti is the the economy one that has patter rollers too, I think it will be ok, but until I get it figured out I am pretty stumped. I anneal, and put it through and it seems I am tightening it too much. So I guess I gotta keep trying! hehe, I am afraid almost I will hurt it....although it is just copper, and yes I do heat it up red hot and quench it....